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Knox Gear 48 Quart Review

Handy to use, but it doesn’t eliminate your dependency on ice.
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Price:  $150 List | $129.00 at Amazon
Pros:  Easy to use, has wheels, cool cord storage, energy efficient, relatively inexpensive
Cons:  Short cords, doesn’t reach very cold/hot temperatures, still need to use ice
Manufacturer:   Knox Gear
By Maggie Brandenburg ⋅ Senior Review Editor  ⋅  Mar 14, 2019
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51
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#7 of 9
  • Temperature Control - 25% 4
  • Insulation - 25% 3
  • Energy Consumption - 20% 6
  • Ease of Use - 15% 6
  • Portability - 10% 9
  • Features - 5% 6

Our Verdict

The Knox Gear 48 Quart is quite nice to use, with its wheels, built-in cord storage, and energy efficiency. It's less expensive compared to similar products, but it very much still requires ice to work well. If you're willing to keep using ice but want an extra boost for your efforts, the Knox can lend a helping hand.


Compare to Similar Products

 
This Product
Knox Gear 48 Quart
Awards  Editors' Choice Award Top Pick Award  Best Buy Award 
Price $129.00 at Amazon$969.95 at Amazon
Compare at 3 sellers
$1,000 List$512.90 at Amazon$375.99 at Amazon
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Pros Easy to use, has wheels, cool cord storage, energy efficient, relatively inexpensiveExcellent temperature control, energy efficient, large capacity, extremely sturdy, full of useful featuresEnergy efficient, good features, super durable, long DC cordExcellent low energy mode, long cord, good temperature range and control, useful baskets, less expensiveVery energy efficient, relatively inexpensive, impressive minimum temperature, surprisingly lightweight, long cord
Cons Short cords, doesn’t reach very cold/hot temperatures, still need to use iceExpensive, relatively short cords, no energy-saving modeUnimpressive minimum temperature, heavy for its size, relatively loudHeavy, small capacity, control panel on backNot durable, takes a long time to cool, insulation not great, fairly loud
Bottom Line Handy to use, but it doesn’t eliminate your dependency on ice.Precision performance and everything you want in a cooler made to last through years of adventures.Energy efficient and tank-like, though not the coldest or the quietest.Performance where it matters for a lower cost.An impressive performer for a lot less than the competition.
Rating Categories Knox Gear 48 Quart Dometic CFX 50W Engel Platinum MT35 Whynter FM-45G Costway 54
Temperature Control (25%)
10
0
4
10
0
9
10
0
6
10
0
8
10
0
8
Insulation (25%)
10
0
3
10
0
8
10
0
8
10
0
8
10
0
5
Energy Consumption (20%)
10
0
6
10
0
7
10
0
9
10
0
7
10
0
8
Ease Of Use (15%)
10
0
6
10
0
8
10
0
6
10
0
7
10
0
5
Portability (10%)
10
0
9
10
0
6
10
0
6
10
0
3
10
0
7
Features (5%)
10
0
6
10
0
8
10
0
6
10
0
5
10
0
6
Specs Knox Gear 48 Quart Dometic CFX 50W Engel Platinum MT35 Whynter FM-45G Costway 54
Minimum Temperature Achieved (F) 52.7ºF with contents
37.8ºF empty
-8.9ºF 5.5ºF -5.8ºF -8.9ºF
Temperature Increase in 36 Hours Unplugged (F) 11.5ºF 20.7ºF 18.9ºF 21.6ºF 27.9ºF
Power Draw in Watts (cooling) 46.1 W 51.8 W 31.7 W 65.5 W
35.5 (low)
50.0 W
38.9 W (eco)
Power Draw in Watts (steady) N/A 0.8 W 1.1 W 0.8 W 1.0 W
Power Draw in Watts (heating) 39.0 W N/A N/A N/A N/A
Voltage Use (cooling) 11.90 V 13.26 V 13.85 V 13.39 V 13.47 V
Amperage Use (cooling) 3.88 A 3.89 A 2.30 A 4.91 A 3.72 A
Minutes to Cool (according to display) N/A 16 min 52 min 145 min 80 min
Hours to Cool (measured) >12 hrs 5.5 hrs 16 hrs 8 hrs 9.5 hrs
Maximum Temperature Achieved (F) 103.1ºF N/A N/A N/A N/A
Temperature Accuracy (diff btwn display and actual) N/A +/- 3.0ºF +/- 2.5ºF +/- 1.6ºF +/- 3.8ºF
Weight 14.4 lb 46.4 lb 47.8 lb 54.6 lb 34 lb
Claimed Capacity (volume) 45.4 L
48 quarts
46 L
48.6 quarts
32 L
34 quarts
42.5 L
45 quarts
51.1 L
54 quarts
Measured Capacity (volume) 41.9 L
44.3 quarts
54.2 L
51.3 quarts
27.5 L
29 quarts
42.4 L
40.1 quarts
49.1 L
51.8 quarts
Capacity (cans) 57 cans 86 cans 38 cans 58 cans 72 cans
Method of Cooling Thermoelectric 12V compressor 12V compressor 12V compressor 12V compressor
Advertised Achievable Temperature Range (F) 40ºF to 130ºF -8ºF to 50ºF 0ºF to 50ºF -8ºF to 50ºF -4ºF to 50ºF
Acceptable Ambient Temperature Range (F) Not specified 61ºF to 109ºF
(min temp cannot be reached is >90ºF)
Not specified 41ºF to 90ºF
(max setting if >90ºF)
50ºF to 109ºF
Exterior Dimensions (D x W x H) 15" x 22" x 16" 17.9" x 28.5" x 18.5" 14.25" x 28" x 15.7" 17.25" x 25" x 20" 21" x 27.5" x 14"
Interior Dimensions (D x W x H) 12" x 17.75" x 12" 13.2" x 13.5"/7.25" x 14.2"/6.25" 15.25" x 10.75" x 10.25" 11.25" x 11"/7.25" x 15"/7.25" 10.4" x 12.75"/6.4" x 17.25"/10.6"
DC Cord Length (feet) 4' 10" 6' 3" 9' 6.5" 9' 6" 7' 9.75"
AC Cord Length (feet) 3' 11" 6' 3" 5' 8" 6' 2" 6' 4.25" (AC adapter only)
14' 7" (DC and AC adapter)
Comes With AC cord, DC cord (both permanently attached inside lid) AC cord, DC cord AC cord, DC cord, extra fuse AC cord, DC cord DC cord, DC to AC adapter and cord
Features Cord storage, drain/plug, wheels and pull handle, heating ability WiFi app, internal light, C/F display, USB port, adjust display brightness, drain/plug, removable adapter collar on DC cord, emergency switch for control panel failure Removable lid, internal light, C/F display Displays battery level, drain/plug Eco power-saving function, internal light

Our Analysis and Test Results

Performance Comparison


Side-by-side testing of thermoelectric coolers. From left to right: Koolatron  Knox  Igloo.
Side-by-side testing of thermoelectric coolers. From left to right: Koolatron, Knox, Igloo.

Temperature Control


Running without ice, as it's designed to run, the Knox doesn't do an amazing job at cooling its contents. During our testing, it only reached about 25º F below ambient. It also didn't reach as high of a temperature as the other thermoelectric coolers we tested did, topping out at about 103º. However, the Knox monitors its own heat, turning off at certain times to avoid internal damage. The Koolatron has to be manually unplugged every 45 minutes, which is rather annoying.

Arrive at the potluck with your dish still piping hot!
Arrive at the potluck with your dish still piping hot!

Insulation


All three thermoelectric models performed about the same in our insulation testing, though the Knox did come out on the bottom of the pack. However, we think this feels like the best-built of the ones we tested and feels much more sturdy all around. The wheels and handles feel decent, and the lid is thick, with a secure-feeling closure. Even the little fan components on top seem pretty solid.

The Knox has sturdy hinges and feels well-built  aiding in insulation AND longevity.
The Knox has sturdy hinges and feels well-built, aiding in insulation AND longevity.

Energy Consumption


The Knox is one of the most energy-efficient coolers we tested. It draws just 46.1 watts of power while cooling, which is quite a bit less than the monstrous 62.3 W the Koolatron takes (which is more than half the compressor coolers!) It runs off even less power in heat mode, drawing just 39.0 W. If you plan to run this in your car, we think this is an important feature.

This cooler has the most energy efficient normal mode of operation of any we tested.
This cooler has the most energy efficient normal mode of operation of any we tested.

Ease of Use


Firstly, this is one of the just two thermoelectric coolers we tested to come with both DC and AC cords, and secondly, they're both attached helpfully inside the lid. This serves as both a storage area and an organizational feature. It's also the only thermoelectric cooler we tested that has a drain in the bottom - which is important for being able to easily use ice. The capacity of the Knox is also much smaller than advertised, and fits only 57 cans - the smallest in our review. As for internal organization, the Knox has a single small divider that can fit in just one of two places. Nothing fancy.

A handy compartment in the lid holds both AC and DC cords  as well as the switch between cooling and heating.
A handy compartment in the lid holds both AC and DC cords, as well as the switch between cooling and heating.

Portability


Ding ding ding! We have a winner here, as the only cooler we tested with wheels! Wheels and a long handle to pull it with are excellent features of the Knox. And to boot, it's one of the lightest coolers we tested, at just 14.4 lb. While we love that this cooler comes with both AC and DC cords, unfortunately, both these cords are extremely short, at 4' 10" and 3' 11" respectively. But really, we enjoy the freedom that comes with those wheels.

The Knox is the only cooler we tested with wheels  making it an obvious winner in the portability metric.
The Knox is the only cooler we tested with wheels, making it an obvious winner in the portability metric.

Features


Though not as fancy as some of the compressor models, the Knox has a few features that make it a very user-friendly cooler. The heating feature helps keep take-out warm all the way home. The drain in the bottom is clutch for using it with ice. And the cord storage and handy cool/heat switch hidden in the lid are a nice touch. It is a bit noisy to run, though not the noisiest we tested by far. Unfortunately, at the time of writing, Knox doesn't offer a warranty on this item, which could be slightly concerning, depending on your outlook.

A single adjustable divider can be moved to one of two locations.
A single adjustable divider can be moved to one of two locations.

Value


The Knox is actually among the least expensive coolers we reviewed. Though you'll still need to purchase ice to properly use this cooler, its cooling properties will help to extend the life of that ice and still save money over time. We think that if this cooler is the right fit for your life, then it's a pretty good deal.

For a portable powered cooler that's handy to use  try the Knox!
For a portable powered cooler that's handy to use, try the Knox!

Conclusion


Though it didn't win any awards this time around, the Knox is a solidly usable powered cooler that adds just a little bit extra to your cooler game. Its cord storage is super handy, the wheels are fantastic, and the price just might be right. If you're okay with still using some ice, but are ready to take it up a notch, the Knox is calling your name.

Keep food chilled or warm with the portable Knox.
Keep food chilled or warm with the portable Knox.


Maggie Brandenburg